Good literature endures because the moral lessons OR ethical questions it raises remain relevant, while also providing cultural OR historical insights into the era which produced it. Literature is ever present in our society but certain literature is considered superior to others, due to certain aspects within the works. While every generation has its own literature that is considered fantastic at the time, it is the literature that has endured the test of time that is truly superior.
It is through the moral and ethical questions it raises that ensure the literature’s eleven, while at the same time providing an insight into the cultural life of the era. Through these aspects, literature can withstand the test Of time and be considered ‘good’ literature. Oscar Wiled, the famous writer and poet, has produced literature that is widely considered as good and superior. The Picture of Dorian Grey is one of Wild’s more famous works, widely considered a classic novel. The novel revolves around the young Dorian Grey, who sells his soul for eternal youth and pleasure.
Wiled raises the theme of self-obsession and vanity, showing how it destroys ones morals, a trait still evident in society today. The unique and in-depth writing style of Oscar Wiled also gives a powerful insight into the culture of the Victorian era. The combination of these aspects allows the literature to be considered a classic. The moral questions that arose from the novel are still relevant in society today. Critic Ted R. Spices compares Lord Henry and Dorian Gray to the devil and Adam from the Bible (Spices 501).
Lord Henry plays the role of the devil, and Dorian Gray plays the role of Adam. It is through the temptation of Lord Henrys words that Dorian falls into the grasp of pleasure and vanity. Just like n the bible, it poses questions about humans moralities and whether we should give into temptation in the pursuit for pleasure. Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent within the garden to eat off the tree, the one thing God forbid of. And just like Adam in the Bible, Dorian is easily convinced into submitting to the temptation.
The question is still relevant today as we tackle with temptation every day, whether we should do what is morally right or do what would benefit ourselves. The relevance of the questions is evident and the moral situations ensure that the book survives the onslaught of time. The oval raises further questions about our society, through the themes of narcissism and vanity. While the modern day example is not as severe as that of Dorian Grey, the basic themes and characteristics are still visible.
The latest generation are known for their narcissistic traits, labeled the ‘look at me’ generation, obsessed with self-image and what other people think. The topic is investigated by writer David Thomas, author of the book ‘Narcissism: Behind the Mask’. The generation is infested with social media, new ways of attracting the attention of friends and strangers. The new trends such as elfish and status updates indirectly asking for attention show the narcissistic traits of our generation. These moral questions that were an issue in Dorian Grey are still shown today.
The question of whether vanity is still relevant in society is also discussed, with most people making it public that they have complete generous tasks such as donations and volunteering. The need to biblically announce it is a sign of the generation’s vanity, how the only reason the good is done is truly to impress others, to make the opinion of them better. This is also evident in the novel, when Dorian attempts to redeem myself, not because it was the moral thing to do but rather he thought that others would see him in a better light.
The question of whether we as humans are naturally narcissistic and whether the main motive for doing good is out of vanity is prevalent throughout both the novel and today’s generation. The novel also gives an in-depth insight into the society during Dorian Grey era. Wild?s language style amplifies the story and gives a clear view of the culture of the time. The use of epigrams, irony, paradox and general witty style of language shows how the members of the aristocracy would communicate. The lavished and luxurious lifestyles of the aristocracy are explained with strong details, the signature feature of Wild’s novels.
His repetitive use of this style of dialogue made Lord Henry seem complicated and clever. Moreover, when Dorian admits to killing Basil, Lord Henry does not believe him, saying that murder is something only lower classes would do. Through the dialogue of an upper class like Lord Henry, readers are given insight into how the lower classes were viewed from the perspective of the upper. This historical insight is a valuable feature of the novel, making the literature a classic and significantly superior to others.